John Nollette, Ranch Technician LeadJacki Musgrave, Research Technologist III
With the mild winter and spring, calving conditions were good for both the March and May herds. We had 80% of March cows calve in the first 21 days of the calving season, down from 92% in 2021. However, 92% of March heifers calved in the first 21 days compared to 79% in 2021. Calving distribution for May cows had 84% calving in the first 21 days, similar to the 85% in 2021. Fewer May heifers calved in the first 21 days in 2022 than in 2021 (76 vs 83%, 2022 vs 2021).
Even with the dry conditions at GSL, hay production in our home valley for 2022 was 96% of our long-term average but 13% lower than 2021. This year we did fertilize 300 of the 475 acres in the home valley, 50 acres more than previous years. Hay production in the unfertilized south valley, was 25% lower than 2021. We were fortunate to get fertilizer at a good price and feel this helped us harvest close to our average production in a year considerably short of our average rainfall. Crude protein (CP) of 2022 hay was 9.2% compared to our average of 7.8%, whereas TDN was slightly lower (56.4 vs 57.1, 2022 vs average).
Forage quality in June was lower than average, but July quality was at or above average. Crude protein value of upland range diets collected from esophageal fistulated cows were 11.7% in June compared to our average of 12.6%. However, in July, upland range quality was similar to our average (10.1 vs 10.0%). Meadow CP values were also lower than average in June at 11.0 vs 14.3%. Meadow quality increased to slightly above average in July at 14.0 vs 13.4%. Dry conditions early contributed to lower-than-normal June values. Rain in early July seemed to really help those CP values hold or rebound.
Yearling gains over summer provide us a good indicator of forage quality. Average daily gains on sub-irrigated meadow were higher in 2022 than 2021. Gains from early May to early August were 2.45 lb/d in 2021 compared to 2.95 lb/d in 2022. The increase in gains may be partially due to the increased meadow quality we saw this year. We also decided in late April to decrease our number of yearlings due to dry conditions. This lower stocking rate could have also impacted diet quality selected by these cattle.
This summer was another busy one at GSL. We were fortunate to have the help of summer interns Sara Erby and Caleigh Iwanski. Selby Boerman and Nicole Woita have been full-time GSL residents for well over a year as they worked on their master’s research. Selby left in June and Nicole plans to leave later this fall. A special thank you goes to these two ladies that have been more than willing to juggle the demands of their master’s program with helping out with all the other activities at the ranch.